A cracked boat is left to rot, and a fare well turns into an escape. A rose spring forth from a dragon’s tail. Someone is led astray.
Feme Sole, the debut album of the Norwegian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kristine Marie Aasvang, is a graceful suite of flickering fables and truthful turmoil. Known as a spirited collaborator in the Norwegian music scene and the psych-folk outfit The Secret Sound of Dreamwalkers as well as the experimental vocal ambient of The Secret Sound, Feme Sole displays the full force of Aasvang’s talents as a songwriter and storyteller. While building a sui generis world on its own, the ten songs touch upon the songwriting tradition’s folky corners, a mystery land between Canterbury, Mississippi and the Norwegian woods.
Because Feme Sole is also a fretwork of voices, quivering among the trees. They cut through the wind and touch the heart. Sometimes from a distance, imaginative and alluring, but most of the time immediately there.
“I wanted the songs to be able to stand for themselves, not hidden behind grand arrangements”, Aasvang says of the recording process. The basic tracks for Feme Sole were recorded in Subsonic Society, Oslo, in five days and nights in 2020 with Anders Møller (Gluecifer, Euroboys, Turbonegro and Ulver). Due to the ongoing corona restrictions, additional instruments were recorded in Aasvang’s small, rented studio apartment and the respective musician’s homes, spread around the country. The album was mixed by Møller in February and mastered at Marcussen Mastering in Hollywood early spring.
“The album title refers to women’s history and legal rights”, she explains. The concept of feme sole evolved in the 11th through the 14th century. Any woman who worked independently at a craft or a trade, rather than working with a husband, was considered a feme sole. The artistic explorations on Feme Sole – Aasvang is educated in the Fine Arts from the art academies in Trondheim and Bergen – bears this mark with valiant integrity and honesty.
“It certainly feels like a big step, taking full control over the songs and leave them as exposed as on this album”, Aasvang continues. Stripping the arrangements down to a few key elements, Feme Sole never shy away from her musical roots nor the dreamy topography of her vision. “The words mean a lot to me, I want them to be heard”, she adds, and goes on to explain how the lyrics often concerns stories of otherness and loneliness. “I guess these themes have followed me, ever since I started writing songs at the age of fourteen”, she states. “In music, even the formless and the chaotic can be turned into something meaningful, when notes, melodies, atmospheres activate the senses. It’s a mystery, really.”
Back in that valley with no name / it’s coming, it’s coming, this formless creep of hopelessness, she warns as Thomas Bergsten’s mandolin strum into the heartbreaking opening track “Don’t Lead My Legs”. The reposeful “Can’t Wait Any Longer”, expands the album’s evocative instrumentation further, reminiscent of the woodsy musical scenes of the late 60s and early 70s.
The mood shifts with the weather, and the songs flow effortlessly into each other. I’m a citizen of more than just one land, she sings as the album picks up pace on the ephemeral and energetic “Daylight Blues”, while the fourth track, “The Sea Inside the Man”, discloses the album’s hidden musical core: a dreamy, modern folk, and the secret ties between Linda Perhacs, Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention and Fotheringay) or Clodagh Simonds (Mellow Candle and Fovea Hex), and contemporary singer songwriters charting a left-hand course such as Marissa Nadler, Emma Ruth Rundle or Chelsea Wolfe.
The strong notion of melancholic release is highlighted on “Thought by Thought” before Feme Sole enters the secret south with “Starstruck Blues”. A more dense and sometimes eerier terrain, filled with mythic creatures and seductive tales, opens up during the album’s latter part. As the haunted voices of “Woman in Green” drowns on the banks of shaky strings and the album fades out, the listener is left alone in the dark, rustling woods. Your home is with her now.
But look up, and you’ll see a rose sprung from the mouths of birds and dragons. It’s there. It’s a riddle and a mysterious vessel. An open road. Go for it.
Skrevet av: Tore Engelsen Espedal
Sagene Hagefest, Oslo
Blårock Cafe, Tromsø
Support for Lindy-Fay Hella at Blå, Oslo
Krissy Mary at Cafe Hærværk
Supporting: Sarah Klang, Josh Rouse, Nadia Reid, Torgeir Waldemar,
I Was a King, Pokey Lafarge, Josephine Foster